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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Biden Says He’ll Give Answer On Court-Packing Before Election Based On Barrett Vote


Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would state a position on court-packing before the election based on how the Supreme Court nomination process of Amy Coney Barrett concludes, but reiterated that he doesn’t want to pursue norm-busting policies and would rather govern by consensus.

Key Facts

Asked by George Stephanopoulos during an ABC News town hall whether there would be a delay in passing his tax plan, Biden replied “well I gotta get the votes,” stressing that he would seek bipartisan consensus for his priorities.

Biden quipped that he has a “strange notion” that the U.S. is a democracy – suggesting his view is an unpopular one in modern politics – and hit at both Republicans and “some of my Democratic friends” for proposing executive orders to circumvent Congress.

The statement comes as a rebuke of a tactic favored by both President Trump and former President Obama – Biden’s former running mate – as well as some of Biden’s Democratic primary opponents who suggested they would pass what they can through executive orders.

It also comes as a signal that Biden has not budged from his traditional views of governance amid a push within the Democratic ranks to enact major, norm-busting reforms like eliminating the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court.

Biden reiterated that he is “not a fan” of adding Supreme Court justices because it perpetuates a cycle of election-winners adding seats with no clear end, but he nonetheless said he is “open to considering” it.

Backtracking on his position that he wouldn’t state a position on court-packing before the election, Biden told Stephanopolous he would give a clear answer beforehand based on how Republicans handle Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.

Crucial Quote

“She didn’t answer very many questions at all,” Biden said of Barrett following the completion of her hearings in the Senate, echoing a complaint from many Democrats. “I don’t even think she’s laid out much of a judicial philosophy in terms of the basis upon which she thinks ‘are there unenumerated rights in the constitution?'”

Chief Critic

“Joe Biden just admitted he is open to rigging the Supreme Court by adding more seats for liberal activists,” the Trump campaign tweeted. “Biden is talking about destroying America’s third branch of government. This is disqualifying.”

What To Watch For

Biden will have an enormous task ahead of him if he seeks to build bipartisan consensus for all his priorities. He has introduced an extensive list of ambitious day one plans, many of which could prove unpalatable to most Republicans, including a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, roll back parts of Trump’s tax cuts, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and institute a series of major environmental initiatives – some of which he has said he will pass by executive order.

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